I Went to a Party for a 'Hip' Bidet and It Made Me Feel Like an Asshole
All photos by Mike Breen
I'm standing next to a nude model talking to two guys about how a common gluten-free Ethiopian grain might be the next quinoa. A few feet to my left, members of the media and other guests who will soon repeatedly pitch me their various startups are being served vodka out of a toilet bowl. (Six Point beer is available as well.) A few feet to my right, a man is painting a portrait of the naked guy. There's a plate of turd-shaped double-chocolate cookies getting passed around. There's a sign-up sheet for an "external butt massage." There's a woman walking around in an asshole costume—because, if you haven't caught on yet, I'm at a party to celebrate a bidet.
This is all happening in probably the only place it can: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, inside a refurbished church that's been converted into an apartment building, on a street where the addresses are not in numerical order. I'm in the home of Miki Agrawal, the founder of Tushy, a product that can turn your very normal toilet into a bidet. The price point for the device starts at $69, because of course it does. Subtlety, as you can see from the seemingly infinite number of bathroom-related puns on the company's website, is not part of its PR strategy.
Agrawal herself isn't subtle, either. She's perhaps best known as the former CEO of Thinx, the absorbent underwear designed to replace pads and liners while breaking taboos, before she had to step down from the company amid claims of sexual harassment—allegedly discussing an employee's breasts and another's pierced nipples, among several other complaints. There were other HR issues that included, according to a feature on Racked, more than just the fact that Thinx at the time had no HR department. (Poor benefits and insufficient maternity leave being two others. Agrawal addressed some of these shortcomings in a post on Medium.)
Now, nearly a year after her exit from Thinx, I'm in her spacious kitchen as she steps back into the spotlight to kick off Year of the Asshole, Tushy's new video and butt-awareness campaign. Eventually, I'm able to escape my conversation about trendy wheat alternatives, and wander.
The naked man facedown on the sofa in the living room is 27-year-old Franko Stevens. "I keep moving around, and I think he's getting pissed, " he says to me, gesturing toward the man painting his portrait. "They told me to think of Rose in Titanic."
After some personal and professional info ("I don't do full frontal"), Stevens suggests I check out the other room, where a naked woman is in much the same position, only she's surrounded by mirrors. The human being dressed like an asshole seconds the recommendation, so I go in with a few others and close the door.
It's a space Tushy's marketing head, Carrie Yang, enthusiastically mentioned earlier in the night when she was running down a list of all the party had in store. It's supposed to force us to fully notice the body, butt and all, she explained.
I don't chat much with the model in the room whose body and butt I've come to fully notice, because Agrawal launches into her speech while holding her baby. Bidets are environmentally conscious, she says, wearing her now-signature big-ass hat while pointing out how toilet paper's such a waste—it takes 37 gallons of water to produce a single roll, and Americans use 36.5 billon rolls annually. Bidets, she tells us, are a cleaner alternative that don't require 15 million trees a year to produce. They are already prevalent across Europe and in Japan. It's only a matter of time before they take off in the US, she says.
Agrawal plays a video—"Tushy Presents I'm an Asshole"—that features the girl in the full-body-suit asshole getup saying things like, "You're probably asking, 'What is Tushy?' And to that I say, 'You're dumb AF,'" while people poop their pants and fart. "Tushy uses the tap water from your wall to wash the dookie cookies from your famous anus," the asshole cheerfully exclaims after telling the viewer about how easy it is to install and use. "Tushy is a sleek, modern bidet attachment that'll wash your crusty crap cannon after you drop a few dos ickies." The asshole's best point is an obvious one. If you got poop anywhere else on your body, cleaning off with paper alone wouldn't suffice. Why, then, "wipe your pretty little fudge factory with TP?"
Before I'm able to completely mull this over, a representative from a sex store, Pleasure Chest, teaches everyone about safe anal play.
The entire evening, the only person not actively attempting to sell me on the wonders of the bidet attachment or their own startup idea is the woman hired to read minds. She is, I am assured repeatedly by various partygoers, a "real witch." After Agrawal's monologue and some tips on fingering from the sex-toy guy, I wait in what I believe to be a line. When it's finally my turn, I sit on a bed with the self-proclaimed "goddess," who analyzes my Tarot cards and instructs me to take a photo of them.
We have a discussion about old kings and queens, as well as the abandonment issues surrounding my father's absence. "You are going to birth a creative child soon," she tells me. "Look at [the photo of] the cards right before you go to bed." I will have a dream, she insists. In the morning, I'm to jot down the first thing that comes to mind, without interpretation. What I've written will set me on a path.
At home, I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. I realize I have completely forgotten to follow her instructions. I wipe my ass with paper and flush the toilet, lost and without a path, alone with my crusty crap cannon.
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